Students Explore a Visual Wonderland Through em·pir·i·cism

Published: February 11, 2021 | Author: Emily Marie Cacho | Read Time: 4 minutes

Callista Mincks, SUU Dance Student Photo by Asher SwanEvery year SUU dance students have the opportunity to choreograph their own original works for the annual student choreographed dance concert. This year students were able to overcome the added obstacle of COVID-19 safety measures by using screendance as their medium. The concert titled em·pir·i·cism should be a unique experience for both the dancers and the audience. All the dance pieces will be filmed beforehand and presented at the SUU auditorium, with limited seating, contact tracing, social distancing, and masks required, on February 19, 20, and 22 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance on February 20, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. This event will also be live streamed at each evening for those who wish to watch at home. Pre-registration is encouraged at least 15 minutes before showtime. em·pir·i·cism will also be available on our Virtual Theatre Page beginning Friday, February 26, 2021, through to the end of Spring 2021 semester. To access the SUU TDAA Virtual Theatre Page please visit,

The definition of em·pir·i·cism is, the theory that all knowledge is derived from sense-experience. Danielle Lydia Sheather, artistic director and assistant professor of dance, speaks to why em·pir·i·cism was chosen as a theme. “Dancers and choreographers alike are a resilient bunch, ready to acclimate to any changing environment and in the wake of COVID-19, the need to adapt and alter our ways of thinking about dance was the catalyst for em·pir·i·cism. The performance will highlight the choreographic works of seven SUU dance majors: Olivia Beck, Brenna Evans, Alyssa Goussak, Callista Mincks, Tenille Taylor, Caden Thomas, and Bailey Walker, who have been working diligently since the end of October 2020 shifting, pivoting, and enhancing their dance for camera skills. The performance will also feature 24 dance majors ranging from freshman to seniors.” 

Student choreographers had the unique opportunity to explore a digital medium through using dance on film. Earlier this year SUU dance students were able to participate in an extensive screendance intensive with Natalie Gotter. With her help, the students were able to cultivate their films successes.

Brenna Evans discusses her experience working on this concert, “I am excited about this particular dance concert because it provided me the opportunity to explore screendance as a choreographer. Compared to traditional live performances, screendance involves a lot more technical aspects as well as looking at the choreography or movement in multiple ways; as a choreographer I felt I could take more liberties with camera angles, framing, and lighting along with editing the final product. In the end, this particular dance concert has been extremely rewarding and has provided me with many opportunities to learn and enhance my skills as a choreographer, dancer, and artist.” 

Screendance or dance on film, although not a new movement, has been utilized and explored more recently due to COVID-19. Screendance provides a way for choreographers and performers alike to showcase their work, without putting audience members at risk.  

Caden Thomas also shares why this has been a transformative experience for him, “My experience as a student choreographer has been a dream. I have an amazing faculty mentor, Alexandra Bradshaw-Yerby, as well as a fantastic artistic director, Danielle Lydia Sheather, who have supported my efforts whole-heartedly. My dancers are all so willing to work with my ideas and are executing my choreography flawlessly. Being given the opportunity to create in this capacity has allowed me to have real-world experiences such as costume designing, working with outside vendors, and grant writing to prepare me for a career post-graduation.”

In order to keep the dancers, choreographers, crew, and audiences safe the Theatre, Dance, and Arts Administration (TDAA) department is following all COVID-19 safety measures. Dancers will be wearing masks at all times. For those who choose to attend in person, the seating in the auditorium will be limited and spaced to follow 6 feet of social distance. There will be a live stream option for those who wish to stay at home. 

To participate in what should be a new and unique dance experience, please visit and register at least 15 minutes before the performance on February 19, 20, and 22 at 7:30 p.m. and February 20 at 2:00 p.m. For more information about the College of Performing and Visual Arts at SUU, please visit

Tags: Theatre Arts and Dance College of Performing and Visual Arts

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